India K’ Raja
As I’ve said before, I’m a fan of all-you-can-eat buffets, mainly because they cater to both my notorious thriftiness and my equally notorious appetite. While admittedly, a number of these are of some dubious quality, to say nothing of the patrons, a surprising number of what might be called ‘ethnic’ buffets manage to buck the image of your typical sterile, cafeteria-like buffet filled with obese families, in favor of warm and welcoming establishments that offer a slice of culture with the food.
India K’ Raja is one such establishment, tucked away in a shopping center just off of West Broad Street in Glen Allen, on the outside it may not look like much, but I suppose it didn’t get a reputation as one of Richmond’s best Indian food restaurants based on exterior decoration. As far as the inside of the restaurant, the atmosphere is far more what you could expect of an Indian restaurant, with veils and beads covering the entrance, neon lights covering the wall, festive sitar music playing overhead, and Bollywood movies playing on a flat screen TV on one end of the restaurant. Overall, the restaurant provides a nice, cozy and ambient atmosphere, which really puts you into the mood.
Of course, the atmosphere is greatly helped by the smell of masala wafting in the air from the bountiful buffet line. The lunch buffet, lined up neatly from chutney to curry to deserts, offered a nice, high quality variety of Indian cuisine, no small thing considering how varied the dishes are. From what I sampled, it was all fantastic, and all fresh. The naan was nicely seasoned and not too crispy, the tandoori chicken well-spiced, the chicken and goat curry were both tender and flavorful, and I was taken in by the gulab jamon, which I’d never had before. They have a nice assortment of chutney and spices as well, to allow masochistic folks like myself to make out food even spicier. Plus, for drinks they have a good variety, but I myself am quite partial to their mango lassi, which came with free refills. For seven dollars (not counting drinks) the lunch buffet is a steal, and effort and quality of the food is commendable.
Most commendable at all however, is the service, which had me even more blown away than the food, or even the prices, which says a lot considering the infamously low quality of service that often comes with buffets. Every member of the staff was very courteous, and genuinely seemed to be friendly and attentive. In addition to offering some sterling drink and food recommendations, there was never a moment a needed a refill or waited on anything. I’ve even come back since my initial visit, and the waiter made a point to mention he was glad to see I’d decided to come again, having recognized me from before. Between the food and the service, I am likely not the first, nor will I be the last person to do so.
Overall, while I cannot speak for their dinner offerings, the lunch buffet India K’ Raja has impressed me enough to be my go to Indian restaurant. The atmosphere is warm and unpretentious, the food is varied and delicious, and the service is sterling, and for the low price ($7), its a great way to get a nice varied meal, or to introduce someone to Indian cuisine. As far as buffets go, it’s hard to beat, and as far as Indian food, it’s reputation in Richmond is well deserved. I’ll certainly be coming back whenever I find myself craving some curry, and I pay India K’ Raja a visit as well.